Guyana Resource Center
Set like a gem in the crown of South America, nestled on the North-Eastern shoulder, defying the raging Atlantic Ocean, Guyana's many waterways reflect the source of it's name "The Land of Many Waters"
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Friday, March 31, 2006
Madam Prime Minister - Portia sworn in as Jamaica's first female head of Government

Jamaican Gleaner

Petrina Francis, Staff Reporter


Portia Simpson Miller raises the Bible as she takes the oath of office at her swearing-in ceremony as Prime Minister at King's House yesterday. Mrs. Simpson Miller, who succeeds P.J. Patterson, is the first woman to hold the office of Prime Minister of Jamaica. Looking on is Governor-General Professor Kenneth Hall. - RUDOLPH BROWN/CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER

PORTIA SIMPSON Miller yesterday wrote a page in Jamaica's history by becoming the nation's first female Prime Minister, pledging to stamp out corruption, extortion and break the power of criminals.

Mrs. Simpson Miller also promised to advance human rights and individual liberty.

In the run-up to the special delegates' conference to elect a new Prime Minister in February, Mrs. Simpson Miller was harshly criticised by many who said she did not "match up" to her fellow contenders who all had the title of Doctor before their names.

But yesterday she said everyone was equal and should be treated as such.

"Each individual is sacred. None is more important than the other. Money should not make one person more important than the other, learning should not make one person more important ... nor should class, colour or gender. We are all equal ..." the new Prime Minister said to tumultuous applause.

COLOURFUL CEREMONY

In the colourful ceremony held on the lawns of King's House, St. Andrew, and watched by an estimated 10,000 guests and thousands more at home and abroad, Mrs. Simpson Miller also pledged to foster and facilitate conditions for employment and wealth creation.

She succeeds P.J. Patterson who stepped into retirement yesterday as the nation's longest-serving Prime Minister.

Adorned in an ivory skirt suit, trimmed with gold, Mrs. Simpson Miller told the gathering, which included Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, regional leaders, members from the United States Congress and others, that the state has a responsibility to protect the society.

"We cannot build the harmony and peace that this society so desperately needs unless all Jamaicans know that they will be treated with dignity and respect," she said.

She continued: "I pledge to ensure that the interests of all our people are protected, and that victimisation never rears its ugly head in any way under my administration."

The new Prime Minister takes up the mantle 32 years after entering representational politics at age 28.

Mrs. Simpson Miller was sworn in exactly 14 years after Mr. Patterson took over from late former Prime Minister Michael Manley.

The new Prime Minister said there could be no economic transformation without an overhaul of the education system.

In his remarks Mr. Patterson, who handed in his resignation letter to Governor-General Professor Kenneth Hall just before the ceremony, thanked his Cabinet which was automatically dissolved on his departure. He also thanked other members of Government he has worked with for close to a decade and a half.

"Prime Minister Simpson Miller, I wish for you all that is good as you assume office," Mr. Patterson said. "May you enjoy calm seas and a prosperous voyage and may your efforts be crowned with abundant success."

For his part the Governor-General said the momentous event could be traced back to the history of the people of the New World.

He said women were courageous enough to build and maintain their families, yet audacious enough to challenge and accelerate the conquest of slavery and colonialism.

Mrs. Simpson Miller is known for her passion for the poor and dispossessed, and the Governor-General told her that the "hopeful" and the "hopeless" have high expectations of her.

"The task may be formidable but the mission is not hopeless and impossible," he said.

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A Desperate Housewife
Stabroek News
Twenty-year-old mother of two abandoned, struggling to make ends meet
Janel Chase

At 20, Janel Chase should have been looking forward to how her life would unfold. Instead, she is a depressed mother of two whose reputed husband recently walked out on her leaving her with no means of supporting herself and children.

Some days it is a struggle to find a few spoons of sugar to make tea for her two- and one-year-old children.

She lives with her 81-year-old grandmother and according to her they help to take care of each other and the children. Their home is located in Cemetery Road, Mocha, East Bank Demerara, and although it is in "good condition" it does not have any electricity or running water.

And apart from the difficulty of surviving and providing for her two toddlers, the young mother is also epileptic. She was forced to leave school early because of the condition.

She said she sometimes knows when to expect an attack but at other times it happens suddenly, like one she experienced a little less than two years ago.

She said she was returning from the shop after making a purchase for her grandmother when suddenly she blacked out. She later learnt she fell flat on her face on the road and had to be taken home by public-spirited citizens. When she came to, Chase was in her bed and two of her front teeth were missing, knocked out when she fell on the road.

Even though her boyfriend, who was living with her at the time, stuck around after this incident and she bore him another child, Chase feels that her missing front teeth caused him to leave.

"I think is because me ent get no front teeth and he must be see some other girl more flashy than me and gone with she," the young woman said.

She told Stabroek News that he walked out earlier this year. She said he made a living by weeding for people during the day, while at night he operated a karaoke machine at a popular business spot in Mocha. But many days he gave her just $300. One day, she said, she told him that the money could do nothing for the children. "He just turn and say, Janel me ent able with this. This relationship between me and you over. He ask me for his clothes and I give he it and he gone," she said.

"I don't know, honestly I don't know where that boy is."

Chase said she attempted several times to make contact with her daughter's father's relatives to get assistance for little Marian and Mario but they were not willing to help and on a few occasions she has had the phone hung up on her.

Chase is very conscious about her missing teeth, which are only noticeable when she speaks. She is small in stature and underweight, but the young woman said she really cannot take care of herself. She said many days when there is not enough food for the entire family she leaves herself without to ensure that her children and grandmother eat because of their ages. And this is not healthy, because, according to the young woman, whenever she is not eating properly she is more likely to have an epileptic fit.

Chase grew up with her grandmother. Her father lives overseas but she does not know him, while her mother is married and living in the same village. Chase said since she grew up with her grandmother she is not close to her mother. According to Chase, she left school in form four on the advice of the headmistress because of her condition.

At her grandmother's age there is not much she can do, but Chase said the woman still has a small kitchen garden which she maintains.

"She would go and sit down and weed and plant and when dem things get ripe deh does come in handy fo we. I don't really know how really we surviving," the young mother said.

Chase's story is not unique as there are many women her age who are in the same position or even worse but her existence is indeed sad. She survives through the benevolence of those living around her. She does not mind that her reputed husband has left, but wishes he would contribute to the children's upkeep. "Is better he go if he want another woman, I don't want he to be with me and other woman because with all dem things out there, I don't want to dead and leave me children," she said.

Chase would not openly beg for assistance, but would welcome anything offered to her. Because of her condition and lack of education it is difficult for her to find any employment and even if she does she has the added problem of finding someone to take care of the children since they are sometimes too much.

She sees the road ahead as long and difficult.

Editor's note

We have received numerous letters from persons willing to help Miss Chase.

Miss Chase lives in Cemetery Road, Mocha, East Bank Demerara but does not have a telephone. Persons willing to help Miss Chase can do so through Troopers of Charity a non governmental organisation formed in America 36 years ago which established an office in Guyana seven years ago, dedicated to improving the livelihood of homeless children, school dropouts, teenage mothers and other disadvantaged persons. They are located at 122 Nelson Street, Mocha, EBD. The director is Mr. Kenneth Johnson and the mediator is Miss Zipporah Peters who can be reached at 263-6037.

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Looking for former theatrical colleagues
Stabroek News

Dear Editor,

For some time I have been trying unsuccessfully to reconnect with some of the people I have worked with in my career as a playwright/ director and producer of plays back home in Guyana. I do not know if most are in Guyana or have migrated like I have done.

A few of my ex-theatre folk that I would dearly like to reconnect with are: Mr. Neville Williams, Ms. Anne Wilburg, Ms. Lorna Davson, Mr. Sheik Sadeek, Ms. Lorna Fausett, Mr. Burnell Pilgrim and Ms. Lavern Farley. In short I would love to reconnect with the people with whom I worked. My email address follows: haroldbantu@aol.com.

Yours faithfully,

Harold A Bascom

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US$15,000 urgently needed to save infant's life
Stabroek News
Desean Noel

Little Desean Noel is in desperate need of an operation for a brain tumour which has almost rendered him immobile and is affecting his eyesight.

The child, who is just shy of his third birthday, urgently needs US$15,000 to have the surgery done at the Community Hospital, Cocorite, Trinidad. Because of the urgency, Dr Richard Spam who saw the child at the Davis Memorial Hospital and agreed to do it, has set April 6 for the operation. He said the sum of money is all-inclusive and the child and his mother would just have to get tickets and accommodation for the mother.

However, because the child's parents, Althiea Sampson and Richard Noel, who reside at 139 First Field Caneville, Grove, East Bank Demerara, have no way of raising that sum of money they are appealing to the public for assistance.

Desean is now a patient at the Georgetown Public Hospital. He was admitted last Thursday as his condition has deteriorated and he is in constant pain.

His mother said the boy is her only child and he was "normal" until early last month when he began to suffer from headaches and was vomiting everything he ate. He also had a high fever and was rushed to the hospital where he remained for 19 days.

During that time an MRI scan of the brain was ordered and this was done at St Joseph Mercy Hospital on March 3, revealing a large left frontal tumour that extended into the third ventricle resulting in obstructive hydrocephalus.

"He requires urgent treatment which will involve a section of the tumour. It is likely that once the tumour is cleared he will not require ventriculo-peritoneal shunt. I have advised the parents of the proposed treatment and the urgency," Dr Spam wrote in a letter he gave to the parents.

The mother said that late last year the child had developed an abscess at the back of his head but this was treated by the hospital and they never suspected there was a much larger problem.

Desean is now lying in the hospital bed and according to his mother he is unable to focus on anyone or anything because of the constant pain he is in. The parents have approached the Ministry of Health and First Lady Varshnie Jagdeo's Kids First Fund organisation and now await word on what help would be made available. But time is running out and even though they have set up a bank account they have only managed to raise a little over $200,000 which is a far cry from the US$15,000 they require to save the child's life.

The account is at the New Building Society (NBS) and its number is: D15453. Relatives of the child could be contacted on 643-2654 and 646-0262.

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Talismans

Objects Of Power
DailyOM

For millennia, mankind has found peace and solace in objects of significance. When cleansed and consecrated through ritual, such objects - be they gems, amulets, herbs, or written words - become talismans. A talisman is any item imbued with a specific power by its bearer to serve a specific intention. Ancient Egyptians used massive stone tablets as healing talismans while the Greeks and Romans used lead talismans to communicate with the spirit realm. Traditionally, a talisman acts to anchor energy in the physical plane. That energy may be protective in nature or may be intended to draw abundance, wealth, or a wide variety of blessings to its user. Today, a talisman may be made of wood, metal, paper, stone, or natural elements such as plants. Often, talismans are small enough to be easily worn or carried, and they may be marked with words or symbols that the talisman's owner deems meaningful.

Creating and owning a talisman can reassure you and also serve to aide you in attracting what you want in life. You may use your talisman to help you attain health, security, or good luck. Or you may simply want to carry an object with you that will remind you of your search for soulful tranquility. In order to create a talisman, you must first determine its physical properties. This can be as innocuous as a strip of paper bearing the word "Love" and carried in a wooden box or cloth sack. You may prefer a more visible talisman, such as a metal amulet or a gemstone worn as jewelry. Before your object becomes a talisman, however, it must be charged. This can be done by cleansing the object - with water or with incense - and holding a ritual of your own making. Or, you can leave the object in moonlight or sunlight or bury it in the earth for a time. To preserve its effectiveness, talismans should be reconsecrated regularly.

Almost any object can be transformed into a talisman of protection, good fortune, health, love, or serenity. It may be strung on a cord and hung around the neck, worn on a belt, or carried in a purse or pocket. But the physical properties of the talisman are not as important as the intention of its bearer. If you are grounded in your desires, your talisman will give you a focal point that you can concentrate on to affirm your intention and help you achieve your goals.

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Khan, others decline police's 'invitation'
Stabroek News
Ricardo Rodrigues

The four men for whom the police issued wanted bulletins on Wednesday in connection with illegal items found during recent raids have, through their lawyers, declined "any invitation to go to any police station."

They have also challenged the police's authority to issue a bulletin for them for questioning and are demanding the withdrawal of the bulletin and an apology.

The lawyers said their clients have no confidence in the police force and that they are fearful that the force would violate their legal rights.

In a letter to Commissioner of Police, Winston Felix, which was also sent to this newspaper, Attorneys-at-law Vic Puran and Glen Hanoman, said they were retained by Paul Rodrigues, Roger Khan, Gerald Pereira and Ricardo Rodrigues.

The lawyers said it had come to their clients' attention that the force, "purported to issue a wanted bulletin for questioning in relation to them.

"It seems that it has escaped your notice that the Guyana Police Force has no power to issue a wanted bulletin for questioning," the letter to the commissioner said.

Stabroek News attempted to get a comment from Commissioner Felix but was unsuccessful.

However, a legal expert told this newspaper that the police can issue bulletins for persons who they wish to contact or have an interest in.

In the bulletin, the police said the men were wanted for questioning in connection with investigations into the discovery of guns, ammunition, drugs and other illegal items during a search on March 19.

The joint services conducted massive raids in Georgetown and in its environs over the weekend of March 18 and 19, in an attempt to recover the 33 AK 47s that disappeared from Camp Ayanganna. A number of businesses and buildings connected to businessman Khan had been searched.

The police release listed the wanted men as Paul Rodrigues, an ex-policeman whose address was given as 29 Dadanawa Street, Section 'K' Campbellville; Ricardo Rodrigues, of Bel Air Springs; Shaeed Khan also known as Roger Khan of 133 Rotunda Place D'Aguiar's Park, Houston and Gerald Pereira of 86 Lamaha Springs, Georgetown.

The letter from the lawyers said that they have instructed their clients to demand, "…and we hereby do, that you immediately withdraw the purported wanted bulletin, tender an apology and limit your actions to the confines of the law."

The letter continued: "Please be advised that our clients decline any invitation to go to any police station. We are instructed to inform you that our clients have no confidence in you or the Guyana Police Force under your command…"

The lawyers said that should the force have sufficient evidence to charge the men with any offence then the force should do so and they (the lawyers) would ensure that their clients appear in court.

Among the places searched by the police during the raids were Blue Iguana; the Reef Club; a five-storey building in Station Street, Kitty (an unfinished structure where three floors are being occupied); the Dream Works office in Garnett Street; the Master's Touch Carpeting business at Second Street, Bel Air Village; Khan's home at 133 Rotunda Place, D'Aguiar's Park, Houston; Avalanche Club; and Buddy's Night Club. Additionally, a search team was deployed to Kaow Island in the Essequibo River.

During the searches a number of items were seized including seven handguns, two pellet guns, two pistol magazines with three live 9mm rounds, four heavily tinted vehicles, including an F 150 bullet-proof pick-up, seven hand-held radios, three mobile three mobile telephones, 41 small containers with cocaine and one Guyana passport. Also found were; a quantity of live and blank ammunition, four AK-47 magazines, a quantity of ammunition were seized, a quantity of police uniforms was discovered, a motor vehicle of interest to the security forces, a quantity of military uniforms.

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10 Bushisms...

50. "I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here." —at the President's Economic Forum in Waco, Texas, Aug. 13, 2002

49. "We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." — Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14, 2001

48. "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.'' — Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001

47. "We both use Colgate toothpaste." —after a reporter asked what he had in common with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Camp David, Md., Feb. 23, 2001

46. "Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a — you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities." —Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004

45. "I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves." —Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2003

44. "I'm the commander — see, I don't need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president." —as quoted in Bob Woodward's Bush at War

43. "I am here to make an announcement that this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out of Ronald Reagan Airport." —Washington, D.C., Oct. 3, 2001

42. "The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorize himself." —Grand Rapids, Mich., Jan. 29, 2003

41. "I saw a poll that said the right track/wrong track in Iraq was better than here in America. It's pretty darn strong. I mean, the people see a better future." — Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2004

40. "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties." — discussing the Iraq war with Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson, as quoted by Robertson

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Help On The Way For Cancer Stricken Guyanese Teen


Johnson is being treated at Brooklyn Hospital.


Hardbeatnews, NEW YORK, N.Y., Fri. Mar. 31, 2006: A 19-year-old Guyanese teenager, who has spent more than a year battling skin cancer, may soon get much-needed relief from the tumor that’s left her stricken with constant pain.

Thanks in large part to the fundraising efforts of a U.S.-based organization made up of Guyanese medical professionals and the Brooklyn Hospital. Dr. Collie Oudkerk, a Guyanese-born medical doctor and vice-president of HERE (Health, Education & Relief For Guyana), told HBN yesterday that Lynear Johnson could begin the first round of surgery as early as Monday to remove the cancerous abscesses that’s taken over the right side of her face and is affecting her neck and head as well.

Dr. Oudkerk explained that the case came to the attention of the organization last December, during one of their medical outreach projects in Linden. “She’s an albino and as such is predisposed to skin cancer since she has no melanin,” he said, adding that the type of cancer is called squamous cell carcinoma or SCC. According to the American Skin Cancer Foundation, SSC is the second most common skin cancer after basal cell carcinoma and afflicts more than 200,000 Americans each year.

The HERE VP added that Chairman of the Region 10 Welfare Committee, Valerie Sharpe, led the effort to help bring relief to Johnson and after a February diagnosis in Trinidad, funded largely by the Guyana government, failed to help, his organization stepped in.

He along with other members of the non-profit, approached Brooklyn Hospital officials, who agreed to treat the teen free of charge. But Dr. Oudkerk and his group still must raise enough money to help with Johnson’s care after surgery. The total bill he said could run a whopping US$100,000.

Johnson is being seen by a neck and head surgeon at the hospital and will also be seen by a plastic surgeon, since reconstructive surgery will be necessary after the lesions are removed. Radiation therapy will also be required.

The Skin Cancer Foundation says chronic exposure to sunlight causes most cases of squamous cell carcinoma with tumors appear most frequently on sun-exposed parts of the body: the face, neck, bald scalp, hands, shoulders, arms, and back. The rim of the ear and the lower lip are especially vulnerable to the development of these cancers, SCF says.

And although SCCs usually remain confined to the epidermis for some time, they eventually penetrate the underlying tissues if not treated. When this happens, they can be disfiguring.

But the Brookdale doctor revealed that Johnson remains in great spirits and is optimistic that the treatment will be successful and she will be cured.

HERE officials, led by Dr. Wayne Sampson, however, now face the uphill battle to raise enough money to help the teen complete her treatment. Tax-deductible donations can be made to the group by calling 850-322-6936. – Hardbeatnews.com

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A Devilish Deed
A Devilish Deed


The boy's grieving mother caresses the face of Daniel Luke during the funeral of their murdered son.

The brutal murder of six-year-old Sean Luke plunged an entire village into a state of grief and anger.

Little Sean was an inquisitive, playful child who never had a sad face. He would run to everyone he met, even strangers, hugging them and asking for them to join him in a game of football. It was this friendly nature that may have led to his gruesome death, relatives said.

Residents recalled that hours before he went missing, Sean was seen playing football with a group of teenagers outside his home. Two of those boys have since been held for committing the heinous crime.

Up to last night, the teenagers, who recently moved into the village, were being questioned by Homicide detectives. Investigators said charges were expected to be laid against the 14-year-olds soon.

Residents believed Sean was lured into the canefield by his attackers after they took him to a neighbourhood parlour and bought him a pack of juice and a snack.

Sean Luke

They then walked him through a bushy track and into the canefield, where someone removed his clothing and plunged a cane stalk into the body of the naked boy, puncturing his lungs and damaging other organs.

He suffered a slow, agonising death, an autopsy found.

Sean, who was born in the United States, was buried yesterday, two days after his already decomposing body was discovered in the canefield, 200 feet from his home at Orange Valley, Couva.

Relatives, teachers, classmates, residents, politicians and even the school's security guard cried openly for Sean, who was described as an "angel sent by God".

Relatives of the boys who are accused of murdering Sean did not attend the funeral. Their houses, located on the same street where Sean lived, remained locked yesterday. When the casket bearing Sean's body arrived at his home around 11 a.m., his mother, Pauline Lum Fai, screamed for her child.

"Please don't take my baby from me. Don't leave me, Sean. I can't live without you. You are my life, Sean," she cried.

Lum Fai pounded the casket and shouted: "Why did they do this to my baby? Why these little children do this to my son?"

A basket with flowers was placed on the sealed casket along with his favourite teddy bear and his pet turtle.

Sean's father, Daniel Luke, wailed as he looked at the framed photograph of his son which was placed on the casket.

Pupils of the Waterloo Hindu School, (where Sean was in second year) teachers and the principal also attended the funeral. His class teacher, Vera Salick, cried uncontrollably throughout the service.

Pundit Dave Rampersad, who officiated, lashed out at the authorities for failing to protect the youths.

"Let this be an awakening for our leaders, politicians, parents and teachers to perform their duty, which is to protect our innocent children. It is time for them to take up the mantle and guide our children to the right path. Criminals don't fall from the sky, they come from homes. Where are the parents? Stop corrupting your children's minds with television and negativity. It is easy to have a child, but the challenge is really how to be a parent," he said.

Satnarine Maharaj, secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, said teachers throughout the country was saddened by the news of Sean's death.

"This was such a heinous crime, that even the Gods were shedding tears. The principal and teachers at the Waterloo Hindu School are all traumatised by this," he said.

Principal Nandran Maharaj described Sean's murder as a "devilish deed".

"Our nation is in deep crisis, we have lost our way and can no longer determine what is right from wrong," he said.

Family friend Vidya Harripersad, who delivered the eulogy, said Sean always had a pleasant face and was always smiling.

"He would always tell his mother how much he loved her and when she didn't tell him he would remind her to say she loved him too," she said.

Harripersad said Sean loved anything with wheels and when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up he always answered: "I want to fix the engines of aeroplanes and spaceships."

As it was being removed, Lum Fai clutched the casket and screamed.

"Please don't go, Sean, please don't go, I love you Sean. I will always love you."

Sean was buried at the Waterloo Public Cemetery.

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Weekend Profile from Guyana Chronicle

Natoyah Fields
Tourism poster girl


This week we are pleased to present the wonderful Miss Natoyah Fields, a young lady filled with wit, beauty and a penchant for instrumental music.

According to Natoyah she is a very self-confident person; she trusts in herself and always aims to bring out the best in herself at whatever she does. Natoyah likes people who are frank with her, who tell me the truth if it’s necessary and without condition. This beautiful young lady likes travelling to exotic destinations and corresponding with people from across the world. She dislikes being around people who are always negative.

With a Degree in Tourism Studies under her belt, Natoyah said that she is currently looking for a job in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry, probably eco-tourism if she decides to stay in Guyana.

She likes listening to music, mainly instrumental, her favourite musician being Kenny G. – even though in our opinion only mindless, self-promoting idiots use their last name initial as part of their of their professional hype, unless it’s Ali G because he’s cool.

Natoyah also hopes to become a linguist someday, putting her tongue to even better use. As intelligent as this young lady is, she is as down to earth as they come. She has a wicked sense of humour as well.

Our Weekend Confidential tip to THAG, and the GTA and Minister Manzoor Nadir and everybody else striving to bring more visitors to this country, you are taking the wrong approach. Instead of wasting dinero on all those glossy posters and brochures printed in Barbados as if they didn’t have enough money already, hire Videomega or some other proper local video production outfit and make a video with Natoyah saying just four words, “Come to Guyana soon.” We guarantee you that that alone will bring a thousand times more visitors than any stinking over-rated macaw can. Barbados, after all, is using Rihanna.
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Canada-based group coming for another medical outreach

MEMBERS of the Canada-based organisation ‘Friends Committed to Caring’ (FCC) are due in Guyana tomorrow to conduct two weeks of free medical and dental health clinics in Regions Five (Mahaica/Berbice) and Six (East Berbice/Corentyne).

FCC Executive Director, Dr Arnold Doobay, who is already here, said the clinics will be held at De Hoop, Mahaica and Mora Point and Number 10, Mahaicony, all on East Coast Demerara and Blairmont and Rosignol, West Bank Berbice, from Monday through Friday.

Subsequently, the visiting team will do similarly along Berbice River, at Wiruni on April 10 and 11; Calcuni on April 12 and Aroaima on April 13, before returning to Mahaicony on April 14 and departing for Canada on April 15.

Doobay said the outreach is being undertaken in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

According to him, FCC has been involved in medical outreaches here for the past 15 years, at the invitation of the late President Cheddi Jagan.

Doobay explained that the floods caused them to visit and deliver medical and dental services twice last year but they will be paying greater attention to health education this year.

He said, during their current stay, an information technology (IT) technician among them will be deployed to train Mahaicony Hospital staff in the use of computers and another would be posted to New Amsterdam Hospital in Berbice to impart training on how to utilise an ultra sound machine.

Doobay said two doctors and a nurse, who are veterans at handling emergencies, will work side by side with personnel at New Amsterdam Hospital, sharing ideas with their local counterparts for at least two days of their 14 days visit.
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From Guyana Chronicle...

Gunmen attack, rob vendor, others outside Stabroek Market


DOODNAUTH SINGH -- beaten and robbed

A DARING early morning robbery yesterday by five men armed with guns and cutlasses in the Stabroek Market area resulted in several persons being beaten and robbed of cash.

One of the victims, Doodnauth Singh, called Billie, from Canal Polder No. 1 on the West Bank Demerara, told the Guyana Chronicle that about 04:30 h, the usual time for him to purchase fruits and vegetables from farmers who unload their produce by the vehicle park near the Georgetown ferry stelling, he was accosted by one of the armed bandits.

He said the man came from behind and choked him, emptying his pockets of $240,000 in cash. Forty thousand dollars belonged to him and he got $200,000 from his friend Mahendra Dilshan to buy produce for him, the vendor said.

The clearly shaken Singh said after the bandit relieved him of the cash he gun-whipped on the head, inflecting several gashes which had to be stitched at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.

Singh said there were some people around, but they ran away when they saw the men were armed with cutlasses and guns.


MAHENDRA DILSHAN who gave Doodnauth Singh $200,000 to purchase produce for him

After committing the robbery, which lasted only a few minutes, the bandits left the scene on foot, moving toward Lombard Street.

Singh said he has been doing business for more than 30 years at the Stabroek Market but this was the first time he was robbed of such a large amount of cash. “I was robbed before, but never so big,” he recalled.

Meanwhile, the Guyana Chronicle learnt that another person in the area was robbed of his licensed firearm, most likely by the same group of bandits, and at least four other persons in the vicinity were also robbed of cash.

Vendors in the market expressed their disgust at the incident and are calling on the City Council for improved security at the market.

“People go abroad and develop themselves and in their own country they are not allowed to do so because of criminal activity,” one vendor told the Guyana Chronicle.

Gunmen strike during birthday celebration


The house where the robbery took place in the bottom flat

A BIRTHDAY celebration in the city turned ugly yesterday morning when a family of three was attacked by gunmen.

It happened at Lot 9 Seaford Street, Campbelville, Georgetown, from where bandits carted off household items after also robbing the victims of $5,500 cash and about $500,000 worth of jewels.

Thirty-three-year-old Parmeshwar Sookdeo told the Guyana Chronicle he was having drinks in his home about 02:00 h to usher in his birth anniversary.

However, when he went to his front door, two young men emerged from a nearby alleyway, pushed him inside the house and stabbed him on one hand, he said.

The duo cut the telephone cable and ordered him to sit quietly in a chair. They were joined by four accomplices who went into one of the bedrooms where one of them forced a handgun into the mouth of his 29-year-old wife, Mala, then ransacked their two-bedroom bottom flat.


The Sookdeos, as the husband spoke about their early morning ordeal yesterday

Sookdeo said, during the 15-minute ordeal, one of the bandits had a gun pointed at his head as they all demanded money and jewellery.

Sookdeo said, luckily, his one-year-old son slept through the entire incident and the neatly dressed gang took away a DVD player and a cellular phone, too.

Still suffering trauma, Sookdeo said the apparently youngest of the intruders encouraged the others to kill him and his wife but they refused to do so and walked away from the scene.

Sookdeo said this is the third time they lost to thieves, twice before in 2005 burglaries.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006
Indo-Caribbean Life in Guyana & Toronto: A Comparative Survey

Indo-Caribbean Life
in Guyana & Toronto:
A Comparative Survey

By: Bruce Ally

From: Polyphony Vol.12, 1990 pp.16-21
© 1991 Multicultural History Society of Ontario


In the complex mix of communities that make up the South Asian diaspora in Ontario, the unique historical and cultural experience of Indo-Caribbeans separates them as a particularly distinct group. Bruce Ally describes the changes in situation and experience of recent immigrants from Guyana.

Beginning in 1838 more than 600,000 Indians migrated to the Caribbean, including approximately 238,000 to British Guyana. They went as indentured labourers, an alternative work force for the sugar plantations after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. Though their time in the West Indies was meant toj be limited by the contract, Indians who had completed their obligation were allowed to commute their return passages into cash. Many were granted an allotment of land that they could cultivate in addition to their estate work.

With time, distinctive Indo-Caribbean communities were established-especially in Trinidad and British Guyana, where the populations were large enough to form a separate identity and community. In Trinidad, Indians eventually constituted about 45 per cent of the population, and in British Guyana they were the majority.

The Indian family in Guyana is a very close-knit band of extended lineage, which includes two, three, and often four generations living in close proximity. Elders are still valued highly. Their knowledge is seen as relevant to current situations since culturally the way of life has changed very little through the generations. Very often older family members who are no longer gainfully employed are responsible for looking after pre-schoolers. This reinforces the transfer of values and norms, as most personality theorists agree that the significant personality developments occur before the age of eight. Since parents pass their beliefs on to their children and subsequently to their grandchildren, family values have remained constant, and the possibility of family and personality conflicts have been significantly lessened. It is also quite common for adults to continue in the family business or farm and to seek to pass it on to yet another generation.

The general tendency of Indian families and the Indo-Guyanese community generally is to maintain a distinctive and separate identity clearly derived from their attachment to Indian culture. It was entrenched, however, by the determination of the British planters to keep their Indian workers on their estates and prevent them from acquiring an education and mainstream occupations. Nonetheless, by the 1920s, Indians began entering the learned professions, especially law and medicine, in substantial numbers, and the trend toward increasing participation in leadership roles in mainstream society continued until the mid-sixties. The situation began to change when the Indian-dominated People's Progressive Party lost control of the government to the People's National Congress, associated with the Afro-Guyanese. Although there was no absolute ethnic split between Indo- and Afro-Guyanese in regard to these two parties, increasingly violent confrontation entrenched the ethnic division. An increase in racial discrimination and reduced opportunities in the future also caused increasing numbers of Indo-Guyanese to consider emigrating.

The situation in Guyana coincided with the removal of discriminatory immigration regulations in Canada, and in 1967 a flow of Indo-Guyanese immigrants began to arrive, most of them settling in Ontario. They were mostly educated or skilled, but their initial encounter with Canadian racial discrimination and their frustration with the lack of recognition of their trades and professional credentials tempored their sense of arrival at a safe haven. In addition, they had to adapt to a new social situation and to re-establish family and community life in this new and exotic country.

In contrast to the spacious kinship arrangements of their lives in Guyana, most immigrant families tend to begin their lives in Toronto in apartment-style dwellings. These are obviously not suitable for an extended family, and often grandparents are not available for preschoolers. Old-age and retirement homes, which were quite alien institutions in Guyana and the West Indies, have become the norm for families living here. An important effect of this change is the loss of multi-generational participation in the intimate relationship on which the transfer of culture largely depends. This challenge to the family ethos is the first step in the loss of the extended family core in the diaspora.

In Guyana, an extended family either shares one dwelling, or parts of the same family live in very close proximity to each other. Consequently, when one person or subfamily, such as a recently married couple was having difficulty the rest of the family would join together, closing ranks by confronting the issues without supporting either party and forcing the couple to resolve the conflict and resume living together. This process often proved beneficial since it forced each party to deal with his or her own view of the roles and relationship in a situation that virtually required accommodation. The family did not usually attempt to foster the argument; even if they did, they were still intent on achieving a resolution and seeking a reconciliation as the only solution.

For those living in a transplanted extended family in the less spacious and less leisurely Toronto environment, traditional pressures in support of relationships may become part of the problem. As mentioned earlier, the majority of West Indian immigrants live in apartments, at least initially; and in the cramped confines of a two- or three-bedroom apartment, mother, father, occasionally grandparents and one or two children can lose their sense of private space and experience a continuous invasion of their privacy. These living conditions, if not guaranteed to create conflict, certainly will generate greater argumentativeness and a tendency to maintain hostl~es and will reduce the possibility of reconciliation. Guyanese, like Canadians, are no less prone to the disease of divorce. In fact, for the reasons previously mentioned, and for other reasons to be discussed later, the Guyanese divorce rate in Toronto is statistically higher than the Canadian average.

In the villages and towns of their homeland, religion was a major stabilizing influence, which determined customary experiences; marking the year's calendar with cohesive community events. In every village, the Hindu, Muslim, or Christian shared with family and friends a temple, mosque, or church that was as much the* own as their home. The congregations of these institutions were a further extended family, providing added support in difficult times as well as the opportunity to share in the celebrations of life. By virtue of their relatively small size, congregation members become a necessary and integral part of the every-day functioning, maintenance, and in fact, the very life of their churches. The result was a sense of cohesion and the confidence that people were able to depend on each other. Consequently, as in the case of the couple experiencing marital difficulties, they were faced with additional , pressure from their religious peer group and elders to restore their relationship or be socially ostracized.

In Guyana proximity to church is also 1 instrumental in the development of a sense of religious identity. Classes in religious instruction were held at times convenient to those in need (that is, children) and were combined with recreational activities, thus creating the easy and familiar environment that made religious practice normal, natural, desirable, and even fun. This also served to bind the children together, fostering a group dynamic that propagated religious attitudes as the accepted norm and ostracized non-participants. Thus children became very familiar with the dictates of their religion and actively and willingly met their parents' expectations.

In contrast, in Ontario society, few temples and mosques exist, and those that do are not conveniently near centres of Indo-Caribbean population. For example, the Rhodes Avenue mosque is in a Pakistani neighbourhood, and the Tablique Jamat is in a Greek district. Muslims and Hindus from every country of the world participate in the activities of their mosques and temples; and in many cases can afford to choose their location. But West Indians are unable, for the most part, to claim this honour.

The cosmopolitan diaspora in Ontario has provided a unique reunion of Indians whose ancestors migrated from the subcontinent in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with those who have immigrated directly from India during the last thirty years. While they all share a common source culture, distance and generations of living in another society have produced inevitable differences. Language-the most vulnerable legacy-is often lost. In Toronto, prayers and sermons are often in Indian languages not understood by Indo-Caribbeans. This also serves to alienate them from their organized religious practices, as well as leading to the formation of cliques of people who speak the same language.

In Guyana Indo-Guyanese students generally achieved high academic standards. It was common to have acquired at least four to six "O levels," which is equivalent to Grade 13 in Ontario; and more than half of the young people proceeded to obtain education over and above this. In fact, a surprisingly high proportion attended universities, such as the University of Guyana or the University of Cuba and large numbers attended universities or received training in England and North America, acquiring qualifications in many fields ranging from medicine, law, and accounting to naturopathy, dance, and butchering, among others.

In Canada, on the other hand, a land having abundantly more educational facilities, there has been a significant decline in the number of Indo-Guyanese graduates. The lack of financial resources, the inability to attract support from an "old boys' network," the discomfort and unease produced by the need to identify with alien heroes and an alien history have reduced the enthusiasm for education. In any case, because of the traditional commitment to higher education and continuing parental pressure, the percentage of students from the Indo Guyanese Canadian community that attends university has remained high, compared with the Canadian average.

Although racial tension and pessimism regarding future opportunities stimulated a flow of Indo-Guyanese emigration, jobs in Guyana remain reasonably abundant for newly-returned qualified professionals. They find gainful employment either in private practice or in groups of their peers older than they who often knew them before they graduated. For those without university degrees, the main options were business, clerical, technical positions, and apprentice ships with room for advancement in line with their qualifications that would provide enough income to support them and their families. There were many opportunities for finding such employment since one always had a friend, relative, or in-law who either had or knew of a suitable position. Others managed to create lucrative businesses that ranged from rice, animal, or sugar cane farms, to extensive lumber mills, haberdashery, dry-goods stores, large furniture emporiums, and textile mills. In fact, the Indian population's businesses had grown to the point that they played a significant role in determining the country's economic development and progress.

In Ontario, on the other hand, Indo-Caribbeans are often underemployed and underpaid and have great difficulty in obtaining upper middle-management positions in the private sector. In the public sector, they are under-represented in numbers. In addition, there are numerous doctors who have worked not only in the Caribbean but also in England and Scotland and have completed postgraduate work. In Ontario, however, they are banned from practice unless they are able to obtain an internship, which are heavily competed for and few in number. Similarly, lawyers who have defended hundreds of cases are unable to practise unless they return to university and requalify. It is exceedingly difficult for a successful forty-five-year-old lawyer highly qualified in at least two countries, with a family to support, to · consider returning to school to complete education he already possesses. It is even more frustrating for him, having burned his bridges by immigrating, to consider working as a clerk or security guard; yet many are forced to do just that because they lack Canadian experience.

In Guyana, the Indian migrants became such a significant force that they managed to be the founders of the first trade union. The Manpower Association was founded in 1953 to champion the cause of the sugar workers. It also worked toward furthering the rights of the bauxite workers. The Indo-Guyanese were also fortunate to have the first Indian prime minister in Dr. Cheddi Jagan, who not only won the elections against vigorous opposition but also spearheaded the movement towards independence-a move that could only be achieved by the active participation of the Indo-Guyanese people.

In Toronto, Indo-Caribbean natives have not achieved as much in the political realm. However, it must be remembered that they are still relative newcomers, the bulk of whom only began arriving in the last twenty to twenty-five years. Nevertheless, the loss of political participation and influence is perceived as severely debilitating to many.

The Guyanese of Indian descent who uprooted their lives and transplanted themselves in the West Indies as migrant labourers, losing their roots but certainly not their culture or their courage, became in a mere hundred years a political and economic force to be reckoned with and developed a social system that maintained individuals as part of the collective whole. The second migration to Canada has reproduced the old challenges, the old struggles, and the necessity to re-establish themselves in a new and alien society.

In the last twenty-five years there has been a rapid increase in the Indian population of Caribbean extraction in Toronto. Initially, when they arrived, they were fairly well treated because they occupied the menial jobs that no one else wanted. However, as they were given the opportunity to perform tasks at higher levels, in competition with their Canadian counterparts, they have faced new challenges. Despite the incredible odds, the Indo-Caribbean family has thrived, and there are members of the community who have sought office in federal elections. There are members who are professors, doctors are becoming recertified, and many lawyers are now available. As our community has continued to grow, we have once again stretched our boundaries to surpass our psychological mindsets and have once again realized that we are our own most valuable resource, and that we exist not only to support our community, but also to regenerate our support systems to provide whatever is required to achieve our potential as a unified group. This recognition should grant us the freedom we desire; the freedom to realize that any and all issues affecting our community are ones which we have the opportunity to choose and solve. As soon as we recognize what it is, we will no longer empower others to control our destiny.

The challenge before us is to integrate our renewed Indian identity into the mainstream of Canadian multicultural life.
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Please visit http://kykoveral.blogspot.com
Kyk-Over-Al

Online/Caribbean Arts Journal. Features poetry, essays, drawings, sketches, paintings of various Caribbean/Guyanese artists. Also includes historical information and biographies of notable people from the region. All are welcome and we are always accepting submissions for content...
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Caribbean Jokes: A Guyanese And A Trini

A Guyanese And A Trini

A Guyanese man is having breakfast one morning; coffee, croissants, bread, butter & jam, when a Trini man, chewing gum, sits down next to
him.
The Guyanese ignores the Trinidadian who, nevertheless starts a conversation.
Trini: "You Guyanese folks eat the whole bread?"
Guyanese:(in a bad mood): "stupid, of course."
Trini:(after blowing a huge bubble) " We don't. In Trinidad, we only eat what's inside. The crust we collect in a container, recycle it, transform them into croissants and sell them to Guyana.
The Trini has a smirk on his face, and the Guyanese man listens in silence.
Trini: " Do you eat jelly with the bread?
Guyanese: " Of course we do."
Trini:(cracking his gum between his teeth and chuckling). "We don't in Trinidad, we eat fresh fruit for breakfast, then we put all the peels, seeds and leftovers in containers, recycle them,transform them into jam and sell the jam to Guyana."
Guyanese: "Ayo use condoms fuh sex in Trinidad?"
Trini: "Why of course we do" (the Trini says with a big smirk).
Guyanese: "And wha ayo a do wid de condoms aftuh?"
Trini: "We throw them away of course."
Guyanese: " Abe na do da. In Guyana we put dem in a containa, melt dem down into chewing gum and sell them to ayo Trini people...nice talkin wid u."
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Caribbean Jokes: Ah Cuss Out De Boss

Ah Cuss Out De Boss

Two West Indians were drinking in a bar and complaining about their boss that he was a real pain in the butt always giving them a hard time. The next day they met at bar again and the Guyanese began boasting to the Trini, "boy ah cuss out de boss man real good, and when ah done, ah ask 'e fuh a raise and he gih it to me."
Trini looked at Guyanese in suprise and asked "you mean he did'n fire you?". So the next day Trini went in to work and began to cuss up the boss who looked at him and promptly fired him on the spot.
That afternoon when Trini met Guyanese in the bar again, he told him what happened earlier. Guyanese explained "Trini muh friend, when I cuss de bossman, I cuss he in muh mind."
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Local committee eyes cricket hospitality packages
Stabroek News

The Cricket World Cup (CWC) Local Organising Committee (LOC) is hoping to become an agent of Cricket Hospitality 2007 to sell cricket hospitality packages, which would include tickets to see the Super Eight matches along with foods and drinks.

Chief Executive Officer of the CWC LOC, Karan Singh told Stabroek News in an interview last week that "some time during the first or second week in April they [Cricket Hospitality 2007] are likely to come on board and we, the LOC, are being given the opportunity to become a hospitality agent."

Cricket Hospitality 2007, is the official hospitality partner of the ICC CWC West Indies 2007 Inc.

Singh explained that in the hospitality packages there would be limited numbers of seats, which would be allocated in a total of eight boxes. There would be 12 seats to a box. In addition to the boxes, he said, "seats would be available within the stadium where you can buy, not only seats as part of the package, but food and drinks and when lunch is served you may dine with a couple of prominent cricketers in the same area." He said music and television screens showing highlights of Guyana would also be available.

Caterers

Singh said there would be several categories of caterers. "Even the average nut man and the vendor who sells phoulouri could register as a vendor," he said.

He said there would be a regional catering advisor who would look at all the catering services in terms of meeting certain criteria. The LOC would guide the advisor in terms of the selection of people who would be involved in the catering. There would be lots of food booths in the stadium including mobile and fixed ones. "We are trying to minimize people having to leave the stadium to go out to find food."

However, he said, Pepsi, a corporate sponsor, would be the dominating beverage of the tournament along with its affiliates such as KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and Pizza Hut. Pepsi is a major sponsor and can have no major competition because the beverage giant has paid millions of dollars for the rights.

But Singh said, "The local cuisine, such as curry, cook-up rice and pepperpot among others, would definitely not be compromised. In the catering industry we are hoping that all involved in catering would recognise the opportunity to showcase Guyanese cuisine."

Contracts for services would be dealt with through certain regional initiatives, which are being driven by CWC through a central procurement programme. This means that goods and services would be bought or leased and acquired through a particular agency depending on the permanent or temporary nature of what is required.

Contractors

Noting that mega events need some facilities that would be temporary such as television screens, and tents, Singh said the CWC has proposed to the nine LOCs in the host venues to use the services of GL Events of France. This was done through a bidding process. The CWC WI Inc is in the process of completing negotiations to bring on board GL Events, which has shown a keen interest in working with the nine host venues to provide management support for the overlay. GL Events provided the overlay for the last Super Bowl held in the USA.

It is expected that GL Events would bring stocks worth millions of dollars to the region for the event through lease arrangements so that the region would not incur unnecessary expenses through purchases.

But Singh said there are opportunities for local contractors and for sub-contractors. For instance, he said, GL Events would not bring tents to Guyana if tents were available here. Therefore, companies that could provide tents and mobile latrines could be sub-contracted to GL Events.

Some countries like Jamaica, Barbados and Antigua, which would be hosting the opening and closing ceremonies and the semi-finals and which would require additional seating accommodation are expected to benefit from GL Events.

In addition to GL Events, Singh said, the ICC CWC is now looking at an English company with much experience in security through a bidding process to deal with issues of security. Once this company would have signed on to working with the ICC CWC, it is expected that it would transfer training to the nine host venues by training of trainers in areas specific to hosting a mega event. (Miranda La Rose)

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Wanted bulletin issued for Khan, three others
Stabroek News

Police yesterday issued a wanted bulletin for businessman Roger Khan and three others for questioning in connection with investigations into the discovery of guns, ammunition, drugs and other illegal items during a search on March 19.

The joint services conducted massive raids in George-town and in its environs over the weekend of March 18 and 19, in an attempt to recover the 33 AK 47s that disappeared from Camp Ayan-ganna. A number of businesses and buildings connected to businessman Khan had been searched.

The police release yesterday listed the wanted men as Paul Rodrigues, an ex-policeman whose address was given as 29 Dadanawa Street, Section 'K' Campbellville; Ricardo Rodrigues, of Bel Air Springs; Shaeed Khan also known as Roger Khan of 133 Rotunda Place D'Aguiar's Park, Houston and Gerald Pereira of 86 Lamaha Springs, Georgetown.

Following the raids the police had seized a number of illegal items from several locations and arrested a number of persons several of whom have already been placed before the courts. They had also issued a wanted bulletin for four men last Monday: Royston Peniston was arrested and placed before the courts, and Fredroy Willabus and Lloyd Roberts, who turned themselves in on Monday with their lawyers. Another man, Sheldon Chase, is yet to be arrested.

"Consequent upon a recent operation in Georgetown and its environs, the under-mentioned persons are wanted for questioning in connection with investigations into the discovery of firearms, ammunition, drugs and other illegal items found during a search on Sunday 19th March 2006," the brief release from the police said yesterday.

Attorney-at-law Glen Hanoman had told Stabroek News on Sunday that Pereira's home was searched early Sunday morning. Stabroek News understands that the man's wife was a policewoman and they have a home in the joint service's scheme at Lamaha Springs.

During last weekend's raids and the one before, two of Khan's reputed wives were arrested and a number of men associated with him were also hauled in for questioning.

Khan, through his lawyer Hanoman, had said the police and the army had "ulterior motives" for targeting his businesses and associates.

Meanwhile, Paul Rodrigues had been charged in 2004 following the discovery of a cache of arms and ammunition at the Master's Touch Carpeting location in Bel Air. He was charged along with Rawle Gulliver and Dennis Osbourne, but the case was subsequently dismissed.

A release from the police last Monday had listed the business places searched as the Blue Iguana located at Fifth and Light Streets, Alberttown; the Reef Club at 60 Station Street, Kitty; a five-storey building in Station Street, Kitty (an unfinished structure where three floors are being occupied); the Dream Works office in Garnett Street; the Master's Touch Carpeting business at Second Street, Bel Air Village; and a house at 133 Rotunda Place, D'Aguiar's Park, Houston. Additionally, a search team was deployed to Kaow Island in the Essequibo River.

During the searches a number of items were seized including seven handguns, two pellet guns, two pistol magazines with three live 9mm rounds, four heavily tinted vehicles, including an F 150 bullet-proof pick-up, seven hand-held radios, three mobile telephones, 41 small containers with cocaine and one Guyana passport. The release did not indicate at which places the items were found.

Searches were also conducted at houses in North-East La Penitence, 239 Pike Street, Kitty and 19 Bel Air Promenade, Prashad Nagar. In North East La Penitence and a quantity of live and blank ammunition, four AK-47 magazines and two cleaning kits were seized.

During the search at Pike Street two revolvers, one pistol and a quantity of ammunition were seized. It was at the house in Prashad Nagar that a quantity of police uniforms was discovered.

Cordon and searches were also conducted at Buddy's Night Club on Sheriff Street, where a motor vehicle of interest to the security forces was seized; the Avalanche Night Club in Sheriff Street; a house at 'U' Grove Housing Scheme, EBD where a quantity of military uniforms was seized; Lot 106 Ixora Avenue, Eccles, EBD, where a quantity of ammunition was discovered.

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Women in the Sugar Industry: The Pre Independence period
History This Week
Stabroek News
Philomena Sahoye-Shury

International Women's Day was celebrated earlier this month under the theme 'Women in Decision Making'. The underlying message of all the symposia, seminars and discussions organized to celebrate the day was that while Guyanese women have made some strides in this all-important arena, by and large, our presence in the halls of power and decision making, given the many conventions our government has signed and ratified, remains unacceptably low. Part of the reason for this is that women's contribution in almost every aspect of the development process is often half-heartedly documented, sometimes by women themselves, hence their achievements remain unheard and compared to men, poorly remunerated. One of the many areas where the silence continues to be quite deafening is in our contribution in the sugar industry which after nearly two centuries to some extent still remains the lifeblood of our country. This article is intended to make a contribution to filling that lacuna.

The sugar industry in Guiana really began to take off in the first decades of the 19th century after its final acquisition by Britain. England planters who had begun investing in the sugar industry during the latter part of the 18th century now poured more financial and human resources into the newly acquired colonies. This increased investment in the industry coincided with Britain's decision to bring an end to the trade in African slaves. This created a problem for the acquisition of fresh supplies of slaves in general and female slaves, always in short supply, in particular. Recent research on women has indicated that women's direct participation in the sugar industry was influenced by the need for labour which depended on the availability of slaves on the world market. Shepherd and Beckles (2000) further posited that "at times of labour shortage, particularly towards the end of the slave trade, when young male slaves were not easily purchased, women were used in increasing proportions as field labourers rather than as household workers." They also stated that "at times of severe labour shortage, slave women were employed more often than males in field labour while in times of adequate supply women were employed in equal numbers to males in field labour."

The gender bias in the writing of history in the past has severely underestimated the role and contribution of women to the sugar industry and gives the impression that the work of sugar production was only men's work. Lucille Mair summarized the reality of the situation thus: "without intending to do so, the system of slavery in many essentials organised men's and women's lives in a way which gave them a common cause. Slavery in many essentials made men and women roughly equal in the eyes of the master. Legally, they had identical status as chattels, as objects which could be owned. They were seen not as men or women, but as objects which could be owned, not so much as men or women but as units of labour. Their jobs on the plantation were distributed not according to sex, but according to age and health … in fact as long as women were young and fit, they were recruited into the same work force as men and shared more or less the same labour."

During the period of indenture, women continued to participate just as actively in the sugar industry. Immigrant women were also in short supply but unlike chattel slave women they did have a few choices. They tended to work in the less backbreaking tasks in the field and factory like weeding and manuring of the canes. No doubt in the writing the story of the sugar industry, the overwhelmingly male writers, influenced by the perceptions of the role of women and what was accepted as suitable occupations for women, deliberately downplayed and understated the contribution of women in those areas that were regarded as men's rather than women's work. In fact we are made aware of women's continued involvement in the industry up to the middle of the 20th century because of their active participation in protest against the deplorable working conditions. Walter Rodney (1981) showed that sometimes disturbances on the estate began in the female-dominated weeding gang and cited the example of Salamea who urged the 'coolies' to fight.

Our knowledge that women of African descent continued to work on the sugar estates comes from the testimony of Dorothy Rice during the enquiry into the 1905 Ruimveldt riots. She was a member of the delegation of workers' representatives and testified about her meagre weekly earnings from cutting cane. Women fieldworkers participated in the unrest on the sugar estates in 1924 and joined with Creole and Indian men to walk to Georgetown from the East Bank Demerara to see Hubert Critchlow.

Janet Jagan

The Venn Commission Report of 1948 was one of the few occasions when women were openly recognised as an integral part of the estate labour force. It was called after the 1946 "Enmore Incident" to enquire into the condition of the sugar industry in British Guiana. According to Ashton Chase (1964), this commission paid special attention to the situation of women in the sugar industry. It stated that during 1939, 1946 and 1949, women made up 30.6%, 30.1% and 27.8% respectively of the total labour force in the sugar industry. It commented on the harshness of some of the tasks women were called upon to perform in order to subsidise their husbands' meagre earnings. It recommended, among other things, that crèches be provided on each estate and tasks in the field be arranged so as to permit women to return home to prepare meals and look after their children, and also that women and girls should as soon as possible be prevented by ordinance from working in water. Except for the crèches, the recommendations were quite impracticable given, in case of the first, the distance of the fields from the homes of the women and in the second, the very nature of some of the tasks they had to perform, made it well nigh impossible for them not to work in water some of the time.

It is not without irony, however, that women who became best known for their involvement in the sugar industry, did not actually work there in any capacity but came to be recognized for their attempts to organise the sugar workers in the trade union movement which took off after the labour unrest of the 1930s and the recommendations of the Moyne Commission. In this regard, three women come to mind immediately viz Mrs Janet Jagan, Jane Philips Gay and Philomena Sahoye-Shury. Dissatisfaction with the quality of representation given to sugar workers by the MPCA led to the establishment of the Guiana Industrial Workers Union with J.P. Latchmansingh as president and Jane Philips Gay as general secretary. She served in this position with considerable energy and enthusiasm until the split of the People's Progressive Party into the Jagan and Burnham factions. She joined the Burnham (later People's National Congress) faction.

A feature that has characterized the evolution of political parties in the Caribbean is the close linkages many had with trade unions. In the case of the three women earlier mentioned, they used the skills and experience they gained as trade unionists to advance their status in politics. Mrs Jagan certainly honed the skills she was to use in her political career from her involvement in trade union activity. The establishment in 1946 of the Political Affairs Committee which later became the PPP coincided with the Enmore protest which resulted in the death of five sugar workers. Dr and Mrs Jagan were very vocal in their representation of the workers. Mrs Jagan headed the funeral cortege of the martyred workers and continues to play a lead role in commemorating their death anniversary. She also later asked that a pension be given to their families. Sahoye-Shury became involved in the sugar industry in the 1960s with the newly formed Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union. She was general secretary of the union for several years. Indeed it was her aggressiveness in championing their demands for increased wages and her being in the forefront of the union's challenge of the MPCA for the right to represent the sugar workers that she earned the sobriquet "fireball."

Despite the scant recognition in the writings on sugar, women have always made a significant contribution to the survival and development of the industry though not at the decision-making level. This continued to be the case in the post independence/post nationalization period. While quantitatively women's participation has not increased significantly in the millennium, qualitatively it certainly has. In this critical juncture of the reconstruction of the industry, a woman holds the important portfolio of Director of Marketing of GUYSUCO. However, that achievement and the contribution of women in the industry since independence will be the subject of a future article.

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Guyana on the brink
Stabroek News
Anti-crime forum calls on US to do more
Deryck Bernard

A forum to discuss strategies to fight crime yesterday concluded that Guyana was on the brink of capitulating to the deteriorating crime situation and recommended that the US government should do more than just produce reports of the narco trade in Guyana, and should help restrict its own drug market.

The issues of justice and equity and the need for government to get on the platform with the opposition and condemn crime were also addressed. The forum, organised by the opposition parliamentary parties was held at City Hall and was well attended with several members of the diplomatic corps, non-governmental organizations and other political parties participating. Notably absent was the ruling PPP/C and members of government.

The country has seen a bloody start to this year with some 40 murders already recorded. Armed robberies have also soared and a tense security situation has developed ever since eight people were slaughtered on the East Bank last month. PNCR member, Deryck Bernard who presented a summary of the discussions announced that within two weeks, a document would be drafted on what was discussed and the recommendations made. He said this would be made available to the public.

There were two main presenters: Christopher Ram, Principal Partner of Ram& Mc Rae accounting firm and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Guyana, Dr, Michael Scott.

The forum agreed that crime was a serious problem, with many feeling that the authorities should be more proactive in dealing with the issues. The forum recognized that economic issues and development were part of the crime problem and there were suggestions that there must be a strategy to disarm the many criminal gangs.

The Guyana Police Force recently made a call for all gangs to surrender, stating that it would pursue them relentlessly. The forum agreed that there were too many guns on the streets and both the presenters and commentators felt that the political issue of national reconciliation could not be left the opposition alone.

Citizens spoke of the need for better governance, with emphasis being placed on the functioning of the courts and the public service. There were also calls for greater transparency within government and a no-nonsense approach to corruption. However many persons felt that corruption was endemic especially in government and among several public officials and private individuals. The forum stressed that the general breakdown in moral standards in society contributed to the crime problem and there was an appeal for young people to cultivate better attitudes. Education, training and job creation were mentioned as some of the things, which could help stop crime.

The forum also agreed that the morale and functioning of the police force must be improved and there were calls for the immediate implementation of the recommendations made by the Disciplined Forces Commission two years ago. As means of stopping crime, there were also calls for NGOs and other faith-based organization to get onboard and become more involved in formalizing programmes to help the vulnerable groups.

The functioning of the judiciary came under the microscope, but it was felt that citizens should not assume that judiciary was incompetent and corrupt and there was nothing, which could be done about it. All agreed it was both incorrect and impractical to talk about solutions to problems of crime, unless the twin issues of justice and equity were addressed.

Many persons felt that crime could not be addressed outside the issue of governance and as such, there was urgent need for good governance. There were calls for a re-awakening of political initiatives and reconciliation.

Bernard said several of the proposals could be implemented shortly if there was the political will and determination of the citizens.

"It is not enough for the opposition alone to be taking part in programmes like these but government should get onboard," Bernard commented.

Chairperson of the programme, Debra Backer of the PNCR said that all of the political parties were invited as well as the government.

On the issue of narcotics, the forum agreed that consuming countries must play a bigger role in helping countries like Guyana fight the scourge. It was noted that the matter of controlling the narco trade in Guyana had to be a matter for consuming countries like the US both in terms of their own domestic agendas in controlling crime and markets for drugs.

In his presentation Ram said that the events of the past three years in Guyana, beginning with the jailbreak, the escapees finding a home in Buxton and the recent blocking of the main section of the East Bank highway during the massacre which killed eight people have involved terror, death and destruction on a scale that has shocked whole sections for their brazenness, brutality and impunity. "Amidst all of this, perhaps preparing the script for ultimate Guyanese tragedy, we debate whether a minister of government with responsibility for security is right to turn to a known murderer and to phantom killers to arrest a deteriorating crime situation." Ram spoke about criminals who rob, terrorise and kill members of a different ethnic group and who make innocent children into child soldiers being called freedom fighters as well as the bugging and broadcasting of a telephone conversation allegedly between Police Commissioner, Winston Felix and PNCR member Basil Williams.

Among other things, Ram said, the prevalence of the use of lethal weapons in the commission of crimes and the inability of the police to recover such guns suggest that the time has come for an amnesty for all guns surrendered with the possibility of a financial reward to those which prove not to have been used in crime.

Dr Scott, in his presentation, said there would be no security without development and visa versa.

"The provision of the basic public goods of law and order is the only way the kind of security can be established in which people can concentrate their minds on development." According to Dr Scott, organised crime has taken on a significant dimension in Guyana. He noted that the criminal enterprise has become very professional and has threatened to undermine legitimate powers. He noted that authorities need to get tough on all forms of crime as well as its causes. He called for the decriminalisation of every institution of the state. Scott suggested that a more coordinated approach by all NGOs, church groups and the wider society would go a far way in helping to reduce crime. He subscribed to the mounting of campaigns, the signing of anti-crime pledges, crime watch in communities and the creation of better policing rather than vigilantes.

Scott also said that good and effective governance; respect for the rule of law and government's recognition of the role civil society can play in crime fight would all help.

The forum was held under the theme 'Unity for security - stand up against crime and violence'.

(Nigel Williams)